Bed bugs are a reddish-brown type of wingless insect found worldwide, that feed off the blood of humans and other mammals such as birds and bats. Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans, but their bites can cause local irritation or allergic reactions.
IUEHS has developed inspection and response protocols to effectively address bed bug problems that may arise in University facilities.
Bed Bug Basics - Identification, Prevention, and Treatment
Bed bugs are a reddish-brown type of wingless insect, found worldwide, that feed off the blood of humans and other mammals such as birds and bats. They are not known to transmit diseases to humans.
Bed bugs belong to the Order Hemiptera and Family Cimicidae, which has over 90 species around the world and 15 in North America. The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a pest of humans that has recently become a problem in the United States and countries all over the world.
Bed bugs have three basic life stages; egg, nymph, and adult. They begin as a very small but visible egg, hatch to become a first instar nymph or juvenile, which is 1 millimeter long or about the size of a poppy seed. There are five juvenile stages, which feed on blood, molt and grow over time. The adult is about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs tend to gather together in hidden and undisturbed places where a person sleeps, or sits for an extended period of time. They are usually found in the bed, along the seams and sides of the mattress and box spring, the headboard, and bed frame, creating clusters of live bed bugs, shed skins, dark-colored fecal spots, and eggs. In heavily infested locations bed bugs can be found anywhere in the room. As bed bugs grow they shed their amber-colored, transparent skins, leaving behind what look like hollow bed bugs.
A fecal spot, the result of bed bug digestion, may look like a brownish-black bump on a hard surface, or a dark stain (like a magic marker dot) on fabric. Eggs are cemented to fabric, wood, paper, and most other surfaces as the female hides or wanders in search of a host.
Bed bugs are small but visible insects. There are three main life stages: the whitish egg (about 1 mm in length), five pale juvenile (nymph) stages that range from 1mm to 4.5 mm (1/4 inch), and the adult which can be as long as 7 or 8 mm (3/8 inch) when fed. The newly hatched nymph is very pale until it feeds. Then it looks like a tiny droplet of blood. Each nymph stage will feed and become filled with red blood. The adult is about the size and shape of an apple seed, and dark red to brown in color and as flat as a credit card before feeding.
The first sign of a bed bug infestation is usually the appearance of bites on the arms, neck, torso, or legs. One may also find live or dead bugs. Collect a sample for positive identification. Clusters of small stains or droplets of dried blood on furniture and bedding may also be found. These stains are the bed bugs’ fecal droppings. They may be accompanied by shed skins, because bed bugs shed their outer skin, or molt, as they grow. Shed skins are amber in color and resemble the shape of a bed bug. There may also be live bugs and eggs where droppings are found. DON’T mistake bed bug droppings for cockroach droppings. Cockroaches leave behind tiny rectangular pellets, not round droplets or stains. There may also be rectangular egg cases or dead cockroaches nearby.
When searching for bed bugs it is important not to overlook the nymphs, which can be difficult to spot. Look for nymphs where droppings and stains appear, especially in crevices on fabric and wood surfaces.
Often, the only sign of bed bug problems that you may notice is bites. Red itchy welts are an indication of an infestation. Bed bugs “bites” occur when the bed bug is actually drawing blood. Saliva that is injected during the bite can produce swellings on the skin that may itch and become irritated and infected when scratched. It may take as long as 14 days for a welt to appear from a bed bug “bite.” Common areas on the body that are affected involve the arms and shoulders. For the most part, bed bugs only feed in the dark. During the day they hide in dark cracks or crevices. Bed bugs are not known to transfer disease. However, individuals may react differently to bites. Bites may cause allergic reactions or exacerbate asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals.
You can check for bed bugs, but they are difficult to identify because of their small size (1/4 to 3/8 inch) and because they like to hide in dark cracks or crevices. Usually the first sign of a bed bug infestation (other than bites) is the appearance of small rusty spots on your mattresses and bed linens. These are bed bug droppings and blood spots. There may be an offensive sweet odor in rooms with heavy infestation. At first, bed bugs are likely to be found only on the tufts, seams and folds of mattresses and daybed covers; later they spread into crevices in bed frames. Once they multiply, they may be found in baseboards, window and door casings, pictures and picture moldings, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster and partitions, and in furniture such as couches and stuffed chairs.
Bed bugs may be found in homes, motels, hostels, movie theaters, transportation depots, and rest rooms. They may be accidentally moved with clothes, suitcases, furniture, and other personal items. Bed bugs may also be transported in second-hand or rental furniture. Bed bugs do not fly or jump, but they move quickly over floors, walls, ceilings, and furniture.
Anyone who comes in direct contact with bed bugs can carry them into their homes in clothes, second hand beds and bedding, furniture, or suitcases. Infestations are not tied to unsanitary living conditions. Even world-class hotels have reported bed bug problems.
A thorough inspection is important to determine how widespread the infestation is and the best way to manage bed bugs. Adult bed bugs can hide in any spaces as thin as a piece of paper. Young bed bugs are even smaller. When conducting an inspection, move slowly and avoid disturbing hiding bugs, so they don’t scatter. Keep in mind that in a low infestation, the bed bugs will be concentrated close to sleeping areas. Items away from the sleeping area will be at a low risk of infestation. Prioritize the risk of infestation from high to low to concentrate inspection and treatment time to the most infested areas. Look first before touching to avoid injury from hidden sharp objects.
The recommended inspection tool kit includes:
Plastic zip-top bags for collecting specimens
A probe, such as a “credit card tool”, made by cutting any plastic card into a long triangle, for checking in narrow spaces
Pyrethrin or compressed air (for cleaning computers) for flushing bedbugs from cracks and crevices
Screwdrivers for removing light switch and electrical plates
Other tools (a small tool kit) for disassembling furniture
Alcohol, glass-cleaning or baby wipes, for evidence that stains are bed bug droppings
Cotton swabs for checking stains in crevices
Sticky traps may be useful if placed under the bed and checked regularly
Signs of bed bugs:
Live bed bugs of all sizes (poppy seed to apple seed size)
Confirm that what you find is a bed bug
Droppings in the form of dark colored stains on cloth or bumps on hard surfaces
Eggs, although very small, will be found among droppings or in crevices where adults hide
Inspecting the bed:
Inspection for bed bugs starts in the place where people sleep and moves out from there to other parts of the room. This should be conducted before room preparation steps are taken.
Along the top and bottom seams, and along each side of the piping material sewn onto these edges
Under mattress handles and along or inside air holes
Between the mattress and box spring, platform or frame
Inside folds of material and under buttons
If mattresses are covered in vinyl plastic, look inside seams and rips in material.
Use alcohol or baby wipes to rub suspected bed bug droppings. If the spots dissolve into a reddish brown color, this could indicate bed bug droppings and should be a reason to continue inspecting until a live bed bug is found.
Box spring inspection:
Points where the box spring sits on the bed frame, (lift slowly to avoid scattering bed bugs)
The top surface of the box spring, inside folds of material
Along seams and where the material is tacked to the frame
Turn over the box spring and remove the thin cloth layer on the underside.
Use a flashlight, a hand lens and a crevice tool to check the spaces between box spring frame parts.
Look around and beneath furniture staples and tacks.
Use a flushing agent to chase bed bugs out of hiding spots.
Double faced tape or carpet tape can be placed on the underside of furniture to capture wandering bed bugs. This is a monitoring tool, not a control strategy.
Bed frame and headboard inspection:
Wood beds (especially captain’s beds) and head boards (especially wicker) are preferred hiding spots for bed bugs over metal bed frames, but bed bugs will hide in crevices on metal and plastic, or where a mattress touches a metal frame.
Visually inspect and use the crevice tool in all joints of the frame where parts meet.
Turn the frame over and inspect from the underside.
Check screw and nail holes for bed bugs.
Take the bed apart to check between parts.
Remove the headboard from the bed and check for bed bugs along the joints and on the wall behind it.
Wicker furniture provides infinite hiding spots for bed bugs. Anything made of wicker should probably be discarded properly.
Inspecting other furniture and storage areas:
Furniture, such as night stands, will be likely places to find bed bugs, since they can easily crawl to distant hiding spots. As the bed bug population grows, overcrowding may cause them to wander. Furniture near the bed can become infested and infestation can quickly spread away from the bed if no control measures are taken.
Empty drawers and shelves of the furniture closest to the bed.
Place items into plastic bags to be inspected and cleaned.
Pull out drawers and inspect every corner and the undersides, using the crevice tool to check under the metal drawer guide.
Use the crevice tool to inspect gaps wherever the tool will fit, such as between the shelf and bookcase frame.
Turn over all furniture to inspect the underside.
Be sure to inspect screw and nail holes.
Plastic and metal furniture may harbor bed bugs, follow the same inspection procedures.
Electronics, such as lamps, remote controls, alarm clocks, and radios should be placed into plastic bags for further inspection. If bed bugs are found in the frame of the furniture where the radio or clock sits, further inspections of those items and possible treatment are warranted.
Office-style chairs should be inspected by turning them over and looking under seams where fabric attaches to the frame. Also check screw holes.
Plush furniture, such as a couch, will harbor bed bugs, even if residents are not sleeping there. In these cases, inspection will be more difficult due to the many inaccessible hiding spots.
Inspect pillows and cushions, particularly the seams and the folds around zippers.
Look at and under legs of chairs and couches.
Turn over the furniture and remove the thin cloth backing under each piece.
Pay special attention to staples and where material is stapled to the frame.
Look inside at all wood parts of the frame.
If the piece is highly infested, consider disposing of it in a proper manner (see below for furniture disposal guidelines).
Inspecting the room perimeter:
Once established, bed bugs will spread toward the perimeter of the room, including walls, moldings, and rugs.
Look at moldings or the joint between the floor and wall closest to the bed.
Use the crevice tool to check behind moldings. The tool will chase bed bugs out of hiding if used in a sweeping upward motion.
Fold back the edges of wall-to-wall carpets to inspect for signs of bed bugs.
Pay attention to the tack strip of carpets.
Look under the edges of area rugs.
Using a screwdriver, remove electrical switch and outlet, and phone jack plates to inspect. If bed bugs are hiding in these areas, signs may be evident along the edges and on the back of the plate.
Inspect everything hanging on the walls. If framed art or photos are present and there is evidence of bed bugs nearby, open the frame to inspect inside or under the paper backing.
Check under loose wallpaper and areas of peeling paint.
Take down curtain rods and inspect inside them and underneath hardware on the walls.
Look at closet, bathroom and other door frames, along hinges, and in the bore hole for the latch on each door.
Make a note if bed bugs are found on walls.
Ceiling lights and fixtures with bed bugs could indicate that they are moving from the upper floor unit.
If bed bugs are on walls, they may hide under ceiling moldings and in smoke detectors.
Inspecting unusual locations:
Bed bugs may turn up in unexpected places in moderate and large infestations. If the infestation is large, every object in the affected area should be carefully inspected.
Bed bugs have been found in such locations as:
Television and other remote controls, in the battery compartment
Telephones, cell and cordless phones
Lamps and alarm clocks
Computers and other electronics
Cardboard boxes in closets and under the bed
Children’s toys and stuffed animals
Brick walls and “popcorn” or other textured ceilings
Books, magazines, newspapers, and files
Inside hollow doors
Ceiling light fixtures, smoke detectors
Heating units, air conditioners and ducts
Some general guidelines which should be reviewed prior to leaving and returning to campus for academic breaks:
Inspect antiques and secondhand furniture thoroughly before bringing them into your residence.
Reduce the amount of clutter to achieve a good treatment and eliminate hiding places.
When returning from a trip, inspect your luggage and clothes for bed bugs.
Brushing, vacuuming and steam cleaning of infested mattresses and pillows are effective in killing bed bugs living in seams and buttons. Vacuum around the home at least once a week, paying special attention to areas surrounding bed and furniture posts.
Dispose vacuumed contents in a sealed plastic bag.
Cover mattresses with cotton covers and box springs with plastic covers.
Wash bedding and garments in hot (120° F) water at least once a week.
Put clothing in a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes.
Ensure that the residence keeps a pest management professional on contract.
Inspect any room you're about to inhabit while traveling.
Caulk holes in floors and walls.
Evidence of rusty colored spots on bedding could mean an infestation is present
Preventing bed bugs can be difficult, especially in residences that have many cracks and crevices, or loose wallpaper. Indirect measures can go a long way in controlling bed bugs: wash bedding and mattress pads, steam-clean mattresses, and clean furnishings. Prevent bed bugs from getting into residences by removing debris from around the house, repairing cracks in walls, and caulking windows and doors. Simple methods include coating the legs of beds with petroleum jelly or double-sided tape so bed bugs will not be able to climb onto the bed. Putting the legs of the bed frame in empty cans or glass jars also help since bed bugs cannot fly or jump.
Always inspect before settling into any room. Pack a flashlight (even the keychain LED variety) and gloves to aid in your inspection. The inspection should focus around the bed. Start with the headboard, which is usually held on the wall with brackets—lift up 1 – 2 inches, then lean the top away from the wall to gain access to the back. If you’re traveling alone, someone on staff should help. After checking the headboard, check sheets and pillows for blood spots. Next, pull back the sheets. Check the piping of the mattress and box spring. Finally, look in and under the drawer of the bedside table. If all these places are clear, enjoy the night. The next morning, look for blood spots on the sheets—bed bugs poop soon after they feed.
If you find evidence, but no live bed bugs, the evidence may be old and doesn’t mean that the hotel is dirty. Tell the front desk discreetly what you found and ask for another room—one that doesn’t share a wall with the room you just vacated. Bed bugs are a PR nightmare for the hospitality industry. If you run to a competitor (who’s just as likely to have bed bugs) it makes it less likely that the industry will become more open about this issue. Communication is key. Ideally hotels and motels would pride themselves on their bed bug programs and show customers how to inspect to keep all parties bed bug free.
If you can avoid it, don’t unpack into drawers, and keep luggage closed on a luggage rack pulled away from the wall. Never set luggage on the bed.
If you think you have been to a place that has a bed bug problem, follow these steps when you return:
Launder your clothes before or as soon as these items are brought back into the home. Launder on hot water cycle or high heat dry (120 degrees F) for 30 minutes. If you found bed bugs after moving into a hotel room, you could ask the hotel to pay for laundering—and for steam-cleaning your luggage. The hotel may refuse, but it’s worth asking. Regardless, once home you should unpack on a floor that will allow you to see bed bugs—stay off carpets! Unpack directly into plastic bags for taking clothes to the laundry. Suitcases should be carefully inspected and vacuumed if you suspect that your items have been exposed to the bugs—suitcases can also be laundered, placed in a freezer for 24 hours, or heat treated in IU’s heat chamber.
It’s less likely but still possible that a bed bug would travel on you or the clothes you are wearing. People typically move too much to be a good hiding place. Bed bugs are more likely to be spread via luggage, backpacks, briefcases, mattresses, and used furniture.
Complete elimination of a bed bug infestation may be difficult without the services of a knowledgeable Pest Control Service. It may even take as many as five or more treatments to gain control of an infestation. Do-it yourself measures used by homeowners and renters sometimes cause more problems than benefits.
Employees should notify management when they have a current infestation in their home. Employers should request documentation showing treatment has occurred. Follow up inspections and monitoring at the employees home should also occur to prove successful eradication. Employees and employers may consider the following depending on the severity of the infestation and the job duties of the employee:
The employee can dry a change of clothes on high heat for about 30 mins, place them in a sealed ziplock bag. Bring them to work and change into the sealed clothes. They can then place the clothes they brought into the sealed bag and dry them upon returning home. Items like shoes can also be placed in the dryer on high heat.
Minimize what the employee brings to work. Only bring items necessary to perform the job.
The employee could bring personal/work items in large ziplock bags or in smooth plastic containers.
To reduce the chance of spreading bugs elsewhere on campus, the employee may avoid large common areas or housing areas while working until the infestation is under control.
The employee could avoid wearing pants with cuffs or open-toed shoes which may allow for hitchhiking bugs.
They can hang up coats and bags and store items brought from home elevated and away from the walls.
The employer could arrange for increased vacuuming in the areas where the employee works.
Clutter can be reduced in the employees work area.
Monitoring could be established by the employer through Building Services, their contracted Pest Management Professional, or IU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety Management.
Indiana University discourages moving individuals during a bed bug infestation. However, there may be good reason to move them to a different area or residence while the infested one is treated. Bed bugs may be transferred with personal belongings, causing more trouble in the new living space. Some suggestions for moving to a new location without bringing bed bugs are as follows:
Place all belongings in clear plastic bags that are sealed tightly. Sort items by type (clothes, towels, sheets and blankets) and keep things that are known to be infested away from clean items.
Have each individual shower and change into clean clothing and shoes and bag up the current (possibly infested) clothes for laundering.
Educate the resident about protecting themselves from bed bugs and what to look for using fact sheets from this guidance.
Before personal belongings can be accessed in the new home, they MUST be bed bug free, or the process will be repeated.
Provide or obtain access to laundry.
Follow all laundering and cleaning steps for personal belongings.
Keep items that cannot be sanitized inside clear plastic bags (electronics, appliances, books, etc.) and ask a professional pest manager how these items should be treated.
Provide vinyl or bed bug proof covered mattresses for the beds of each member of the residence. Also cover box springs if they are present.
Provide contact information for a person who will respond to bed bug complaints, in case bed bugs show up again.
Whether you move permanently or temporarily, leave furniture behind if possible to allow it to be treated. Treat furniture before moving it. Take with you as few items as possible at first.
Thorough cleaning, in the form of vacuuming and washing floors and furniture, is an essential step in bed bug and cockroach control. Cleaning, alone will not eliminate bed bugs but is necessary to crash high populations. Cleaning removes debris that may contribute to allergies and asthma, and removing bugs, droppings, and cast skins allows the inspector to spot new activity.
Vacuuming does not easily remove eggs and bugs hiding in cracks but can pick up bugs and cast skins in easily accessible areas. In places, such as dorms, cleaning teams or the facility management may be responsible for the majority of housekeeping duties. Cleaning for bed bugs should focus on sleeping and lounging areas, (whereas cockroach control depends on sanitation in cooking and eating areas). However for cleaning to have any impact, the resident must cooperate by reducing clutter, organizing, and bagging their belongings. There may be a need to store their belongings temporarily. Be certain every item is bagged until it can be cleaned of bed bugs. Units should always be cleaned before new tenants move in.
A cleaning procedure for bed bugs begins with vacuuming, using a HEPA-equipped vacuum that is dedicated only to pest control. Although a regular vacuum is acceptable, a HEPA equipped vacuum will reduce the spread of allergens. A crevice tool will be needed to focus suction in small spaces, cracks and crevices. Use the crevice tool with a scraping motion to dislodge bugs and eggs, because bed bugs cling to wood and fabric and the eggs are cemented to the surface where they are laid. A brush attachment can also be used but must be cleaned carefully to prevent the spread of bugs. See below for proper handling of the vacuum cleaner and vacuum bags.
Cleaning and Organizing a Room or Residence
Cleaning and organizing a room or home for bed bug management can be as burdensome as changing residences, it is, however, an extremely important first step to control bed bugs, because bed bugs will thrive in a cluttered living area. Vacuuming and cleaning should be done before a pesticide application or treatment. Cleaning should be carried out in a systematic way, beginning with removing items from the infested room or residence. Soap or detergent will aid in the cleanup of bed bug debris and allergens, making the environment healthier and more tolerable for those living there. Essential oil soaps (pine, orange or lemon), enzyme soaps, and sudsy detergents are good choices. Bleach and ammonia do not kill bed bugs and should not be used to combat them. Their vapors can also be harmful.
Steps to follow include:
Scan the room for items on the floor. Make a plan for each item, and how it will be quarantined (closed into a plastic bag, for example), inspected, sanitized of bed bugs, and stored until further notice.
Place clothes, shoes, plush toys, pillows, and bedding into large clear plastic bags and seal them tightly to be laundered. Place the bags away from the infestation site.
Alternatively, plastic tote bins that have an airtight seal can be used for items that cannot be laundered, such as hard toys, electronics, books, breakable items, etc. Be prepared to store these items for a period of time until they can be thoroughly inspected or enough time has passed that bed bugs are dead – at least a year.
Once the room has been “stripped” of all personal belongings, begin vacuuming the bed, paying special attention to the mattress seams.
Use a crevice tool and a scraping motion.
Remove the mattress and box spring from the bed frame and inspect and vacuum all surfaces, removing all loose debris and visible bed bugs.
Flip the bed frame over and vacuum and crevices where bed bugs may hide. This is especially important for wooden bed frames and captain’s beds.
Vacuum inside and under drawers of night stands, dressers, and other furniture in the room.
Turn over each piece of furniture and vacuum the under sides of each.
Pay attention to screw and nail holes, using a credit card crevice tool.
Vacuum along the bottoms of all walls and the moldings. If molding or wallpaper is loose lift or remove and vacuum beneath.
Make sure to vacuum around heating units.
Vacuum along carpet edges.
Vacuum plush furniture with a carpet beater attachment or by patting the furniture while vacuuming to flush out bed bugs.
If a vacuum brush attachment is used it is possible some live bugs or eggs could be caught in the brush bristles. Wash the vacuum brush with hot water and detergent if this is a concern.
Handling a Bed Bug Vacuum
A vacuum used for bed bugs can have live bed bugs inside and it will be important to avoid transferring bed bugs to new locations.
Dedicate a vacuum for the purpose of pest control in your facility.
After each use remove the vacuum bag and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag.
Clean the brush attachment with hot water and detergent.
Stuff a paper towel in the hose end to prevent bed bugs caught in the hose from escaping.
Store the pest control vacuum in a large plastic garbage bag that is closed tightly.
Inspect the vacuum before each use to be sure no live bed bugs are on the outside.
Washing Surfaces and Furniture
Wash all furniture (non-plush) and hard surfaces in the room using an orange, lemon, or pine based soap or detergent cleanser. Pay attention to crevices and spaces in the frame.
After removing the mattress and box spring from the bed frame, wash the bed frame liberally with soap and water.
Wash cribs and children’s bed frames rather than using pesticides.
Wash the floors, moldings, window sills, and walls generously.
Steam or hot water heating units can be washed as well. Do not wash electrical heating units.
Rugs and Carpeting
Many small rugs can be placed into the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes.
If the room has a large area rug, the rug can be steam cleaned within the same time frame that other bed bug control measures are taking place, although steaming should be done before pesticide applications are made.
Rugs can be sent out for professional cleaning, as well. Wrap in plastic for transport and warn the cleaning company.
Wall to wall carpeting can harbor bed bugs and should be removed, especially in a heavy infestation, or steam cleaned, paying very close attention to the edges.
Previous inspection will help determine where to concentrate steaming efforts.
The carpet tack strip left behind after wall-to-wall carpet is removed should also be removed for safety purposes, as well as bed bug management.
Pesticides alone should not be used to control bed bugs. The most effective program for eliminating bed bugs is one that utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is the use of all possible methods in a logical combination that minimizes risk of pesticide exposure, safeguards the environment, and maximizes effectiveness. Facilities should have a pest management plan in place, to deal with pests including bed bugs, before they are a problem. IPM methods include:
Inspect infested areas, plus surrounding living spaces
Correctly identify the pest
Keep records, including dates when and locations where pests are found
Clean all items within a bed bug infested living area
Reduce clutter where bed bugs can hide through storage and/or disposal of items
Eliminate bed bug habitats
Physically remove bed bugs through cleaning
Pesticide use by a licensed Pest Management Professional
Follow up inspections and possible treatments
Raise awareness through education on prevention of bed bugs
Thermal heat, steaming, and vacuuming
A facility may need several cycles of inspection, cleaning, and pesticide use before bed bugs are fully eliminated. IPM also includes prevention through education of residents, facilities managers, house directors and landlords.
Strategies that Do NOT Work
Abandoning rooms or even a whole facility is not a guarantee that bed bugs will be eradicated. Adult bed bugs can live without a blood meal for over a year and will wander to find a new host when one is unavailable.
The use of “bug bombs” or total release foggers is not advised. These devices release insecticide in small droplets that land on exposed surfaces and do not penetrate the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. This results in increased pesticide exposure to the resident and poor control of these pests. This has been linked to pesticide resistance and suspected repellency to bed bugs, causing them to spread.
Simply discarding beds and bedding is NOT a sound approach to bed bug management.
Bed bugs will spread quickly to walls, molding, ceilings, light fixtures, electronics, TV remote controls, alarm clocks, and spaces within and along floor boards, and the edges of carpets. If items are discarded they should be wrapped in plastic before transport and LABELED as “infested with bed bugs” or made unsalvageable.
Often people discard furniture and belongings that are infested with bed bugs. When doing so, it is a good practice to destroy or deface the items to prevent others from unknowingly collecting infested items. Bed bugs are likely being transferred from place to place through infested furniture and discarded objects. Slash mattresses and plush furniture, break box spring frames, and label items with the word “bed bugs” to prevent the spread of bed bugs in your community.
Responsibilities of Building Management and Staff
Encourage tenants or guests to report bed bugs (unreported and uncontrolled bed bugs will spread quickly).
Keep records of bed bug (or other pest) complaints on site in a log book.
Respond quickly to complains with an inspection and intervention.
Develop an aggressive bed bug control protocol with elimination as the goal.
Raise tenant or guest awareness about bed bugs.
Institute a prevention program, centered on awareness.
Refer tenants and guests to the proper sources of help (medical, mental health, financial, and social services).
Responsibilities of Residents
Read and follow all guidelines given by building management for reporting signs of bed bugs, and for cleaning and room preparation.
Cooperate with staff and management in preventing and controlling bed bugs whether your individual living space is infested or not.
Know the signs of bed bugs and check constantly for signs of them in your living space.
Encourage other tenants to follow guidelines and cooperate with management.
Preparation of a room for bed bug treatment is essential to the successful management of these pests. Most pest managers prefer to conduct an inspection before any cleaning or rearranging has occurred. This gives the pest manager a sense of the full extent of the problem and prevents the disturbance and spread of bed bugs before treatment. However, once bed bugs are located and the size of the problem has been estimated, room preparation must be done, usually by the resident. Some residents will need help preparing their living space for inspection and treatment.
Suggested room preparation steps include organizing belongings and placing them in bags, laundering all clothing and bedding, moving furniture away from the walls, and emptying furniture of items for better inspection.
Reporting and Recordkeeping
It is critical for managers of multiple-unit housing of any type to encourage residents to report suspected cases of bed bugs to the facility manager. If a bed bug problem is not addressed immediately, it will grow quickly and spread throughout the facility room by room. Eliminating a widespread problem is MUCH more expensive and difficult than a limited one.
Management should keep the Following Pest Information Records for all Types of Pests:
Date of the complaint
Type of complaint (bites, bug sightings, damage to property)
Unit or room number
Date of first pest inspection
Results of the inspection, what was found, how much was found
Dates of pest management activities
What pest management strategies were used, such as cleaning, pesticide treatments, resident education
Educating Residents and Staff
The administrators and facilities managers of dormitories, student living, Greek houses, and other types of housing should seek to better educate residents about bed bugs and how to prevent them. Please see the other documents and links in this guidance for education materials.
Treatments for Bed Bug Elimination
Controlling bed bugs is a difficult and time and money consuming activity. However, bed bugs can be eliminated with a coordinated effort that includes cooperation of the residents and landlord or property management. There is no single tool or activity that, used alone, will eliminate bed bugs, including pesticides. Multiple techniques are always required because bed bugs are small, good at hiding, and reportedly live without feeding for up to a year. In some cases, bed bugs are resistant to the pesticides used against them, meaning that many will survive treatment. The reduction of household clutter is absolutely necessary for fighting bed bugs. Despite the challenges, the technology of bed bug control is getting better. Pest managers are becoming more knowledgeable as bed bugs become a greater issue. Treatment of a living area for bed bugs should focus on containment of the infestation. Do everything possible to avoid spreading bed bugs to new locations.
A Combination of the Following Steps Will be Needed for Bed Bug Control:
Clean and organize the bed, bedroom, other living areas, furniture and belongings, including elimination of clutter
Physical removal of bed bugs and eggs using a vacuum
Barriers, such as mattress encasements and sticky barriers (sticky traps may be useful for monitoring but will not help control bed bugs)
Steam (to kill all life stages)
Heat or cold treatments (to kill all life stages)
Eliminate bed bug hiding spots
Fix peeling wallpaper and paint
Caulk or seal cracks and crevices around the room and on furniture
Seal floors or the spaces between floor boards or tiles
Make other repairs to the living area to reduce hiding spots
Low risk pesticides
Professional use pesticides
Prevention of re-infestation
It is important to consider that a bed bug infestation in a living area (bedroom, apartment, dormitory room, Greek house) might spread to adjacent units or those below, above or to the sides. This is especially true if the population is high or if pesticides are used in the original unit. Adjacent units should be inspected and if bed bugs are found or residents notice bites, they should be treated as if infested.
Gangloff-Kaufmann, J.L., and C. Pichler.Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities. Ithaca, New York: New York State IPM Program, Cornell University, 2008.